Israelis and Arabs to Promote 'Peace Oil'

Marking the end of the 2004 olive harvest, the Israel Olive Oil Board and Palestine Olive Board announced plans to expand cooperation, and display a joint olive oil brand called "Peace Oil" at international exhibitions, reports the Israeli business journal Globes. The Palestinian Authority (PA) regional harvest reached 32,000 tons this year and is worth $64 million. With 900,000 olive trees and 270 modern olive presses in Judea and Gaza, the olive industry accounts for 3.5 million workdays and 2-3 percent of the PA's GDP.

The main problem Arab olive growers face is a lack of market for their produce, which results in large surpluses. Domestic consumption is 14,000 tons of olive oil a year. Another 5,000 tons is sold to Israel, and 2,000-3,000 tons to Arab countries. The rest remains unsold in warehouses. Jordan, which imported olive oil from the PA for years, has become a competitor, exporting 900 tons a year to Israel, duty free.

Israel Olive Oil Board director general Amin Hasan said that Israel and the Arabs were also cooperating in joint pesticide research, and in a venture to try to produce electricity from olive waste, financed by Europe.

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